Category Archives Europe

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a pair of studies purportedly finding that "a high proportion of baby foods are incorrectly marketed as suitable for infants under the age of six months, when in fact much of it contains inappropriately high levels of sugar." Researchers reviewed 7,955 baby-food products in Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Israel and reportedly found that more than half of the products available in three of the countries provided more than 30% of their calories from sugars. WHO also noted that between 28% to 60% of products indicated that they were appropriate for infants under six months, which contradicts WHO guidance on exclusively breastfeeding until that age.

Eurojust, with Italian and Serbian national authorities, has arrested nine suspects allegedly perpetrating a "transnational large-scale fraud in the production and trade of allegedly organic food and beverages from rotten apples." The apples were apparently used to create juice, jams and other canned food products adulterated with "mycotoxins and other toxic chemical substances, unsuitable for human consumption and dangerous for public health." The products were "refined with water and sugars, and falsely labelled and promoted as organic products of European origin."

U.K. Environment Secretary Michael Gove has reportedly announced that a law requiring a full listing of ingredients on prepackaged food will take effect by the summer of 2021 and will include a two-year implementation period allowing businesses to adapt. "Natasha's Law" bears the name of a 15-year-old who died from anaphylaxis after an allergic reaction caused by consumption of a Pret A Manger baguette. Current regulations require that prepackaged food made on-site must be displayed near a sign prompting customers to ask about allergens.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has announced a change in guidance on the use of phosphates as food additives. The agency's scientists recommended a group acceptable daily intake of 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, or about 2.8 grams for the average 70-kilogram adult. According to the announcement, the existing maximum permitted levels "range from 500 to 20,000 milligrams per kilogram."

The U.K. National Audit Office has released a report that "examines the effectiveness of the current regulatory arrangements to ensure that food is safe to eat and is what it says it is." The report found that spending on maintaining food safety systems in the country has declined, and some local authorities "are failing to meet statutory objectives to conduct interventions." The agency also purportedly found that the "regulatory system lacks the full range of enforcement powers to ensure businesses supply safe food."

U.K. Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced that England will ban plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic cotton swabs beginning in April 2020. The ban includes an exemption for those who use straws for medical needs, and registered pharmacies will be allowed to administer plastic straws. The announcement also indicates that restaurants and bars "will not be able to display plastic straws or automatically hand them out, but they will be able to provide them on request." "Today's announcement follows the success of the government's world-leading ban on microbeads and 5p charge on single-use plastic bags, which has seen distribution by major supermarkets drop by 86%," the announcement states.

The Council of the European Union has voted to adopt measures banning "the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on European beaches," including cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers, cups and other food and beverage containers. The ban focuses on products for which alternatives not constructed of single-use plastic are readily available. The decision will take effect 20 days after it is published in the Official Journal of the European Union, and member countries will have two years to implement the legislation in their national laws.

Following the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety's opinion suspending the sale of food products containing titanium dioxide—a food additive appearing in chewing gum, sauces and baked goods—the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a statement asserting that no further research has been published that would cause the agency to amend its previous opinion that the substance "did not raise concern with respect to genotoxicity and that it was not carcinogenic after oral administration." EFSA notes that its earlier opinion "identified data gaps and uncertainties that required follow-up by the European Commission by means of a subsequent call for additional data" but that the French opinion did not fill those gaps. The statement also follows the submission of a letter to the European Commission from several civil society organizations based in France, Italy and other member countries calling on the entity to "put forward a…

The EU agriculture committee has reportedly approved a prohibition on the use of the term “meat” to describe vegetable-based products, including bean burgers, vegan sausages and tofu steaks. The provision would limit the use of “steak,” “sausage,” “burger,” “hamburger” and “escalope” to only describe “edible parts of the animals.” One French politician reportedly described the bill as beneficial for consumers. “We felt that steak should be kept for real steak with meat and come up with a new moniker for all these new products. There is a lot to be done in this front, a lot of creativity will be needed,” The Guardian quotes Member of the European Parliament Éric Andrieu as saying. “People need to know what they are eating. So people who want to eat less meat know what they are eating – people know what is on their plate.” Before the provision can take effect, the full…

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is accepting comments on draft dietary reference values for sodium and chloride. The draft values deem 2 grams of sodium and 3.1 grams of chloride per day to be “safe and adequate, considering evidence on the risk of cardiovascular disease on the one hand and nutrition adequacy on the other.” EFSA will accept comments until May 7, 2019.